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OK, so what do you do when your Inner Reptile has a stranglehold on your brain and is pulling out all the stops to prevent you moving forward?

Let’s start with what you don’t do.

Do not, under any circumstances, try to fight him because you will never win. You cannot use the force of your will against the Inner Reptile, at least not for any useful length of time. The Inner Reptile controls your body, quite literally. The reptilian brain is your back brain and the start of your spine – he is the gatekeeper to your entire nervous system! And if he doesn’t want to do something, fighting him will just make him hang on tighter. He is trying to save your life, fighting him will just reinforce his belief that you are on a suicide mission and he will do whatever it takes to keep you where you are. Remember, the Inner Reptile only sees things in black and white – in his world you are either safe or dead. There’s no grey area!

Do not under any circumstances beat yourself up. You are not useless, a wimp, a failure, disorganised, pathetic or whatever else you like to call yourself when you’re not happy with your performance. Beating yourself up will only convince your Inner Reptile that you have lost all your marbles and are not safe to be let out with a human body!

Do not, under any circumstances give up. If you do that you convince him that he was right all along and next time he will take over much more quickly.

So what do you do?

Firstly, make a plan and write it down and then follow the plan to the letter. Do not be distracted by any of the tricks he’s going to throw at you. If its not in the plan its just a reptilian game! Write that at the top of your action plan for every day to remind yourself, because one of the Inner Reptile’s tricks is to wipe your memory clean!!

Secondly, keep a sense of humour! Your sense of humour is one of your most advanced human states and the ability to laugh at yourself is highest of the lot. Being able to step outside of a sticky situation and see the funny side is one of the quickest and most effective ways to get the Inner Reptile to let go. Remember, he’s sneaky and sly but he’s not very bright – if you’re laughing he’s going to think maybe this isn’t so scary after all! If you need to, watch some funny movies, the sillier the better. As long as you laugh lots and laugh long and loud. Yes, you will probably get some funny looks but that will just add to the humourous situation.

Thirdly, make sure that everything you put in your brain is positive. Read positive books like The Science Of Getting Rich, The Power of Positive Thinking or  The Secret or anything by Napoleon Hill. Don’t read the newspapers or listen to the news, the last thing you need is to hear about more things to be stressed about, especially things you can’t do anything about. Avoid negative people. They are toxic at the best of times but when the Inner Reptile is in charge they are doubly dangerous.

Fourthly, stretch lots and do as much exercise as possible. The Inner Reptile can’t keep control of a loose, flexible, stretched body so now is a good time to take up yoga! Run and walk lots too, get a dog or borrow a friend’s or volunteer at your local shelter. Throw some weights around, its a great way to get rid of all that excess tension. Take up a martial art and let the Inner Reptile do some fighting in a safe environment! Exercise increases the oxygen supply to your brain and your brain cells need all the help they can get right now.

And finally, don’t push too hard. Make room in your plan to humour the Inner Reptile occasionally – that way you keep him guessing and let him know that you appreciate all his hard work in trying to keep you alive!

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But not, I’m afraid one of mine! If patience was on my values list it would definitely be on the “wishlist” side along with tidiness and frugality!

But sometimes patience is the only answer and its a big learning curve when you are put in a situation where you just have to wait on someone or something to happen before you can make your next move. Bob Proctor always used to say to his coaching students that you can have any thing you want, just not always when you want. The learning comes from paying attention to how you react and respond when things are out of your control. Is it frustrating or do you stay calm? Do you actively seek solutions or do you sit back and wait? Do you lose your temper or do you stay cool? Do you stay focused or do you look for distractions? Do you moan and complain or do you keep your feelings to yourself? Do you blame others, or yourself, or do you accept that not everyone runs to your timetable? All this awareness can only be useful!

But what do you do when you can’t do anything at all? Well, its one of the reasons why having multiple goals is a good thing – you never need to sit and twiddle your thumbs waiting for the universe to catch up with you! Waiting around is never a good thing – you need to keep your momentum going even if its just as a distraction.

With multiple goals you can choose a couple of easy ones to take your mind off the waiting or you can tackle some of the big scary ones you’ve been avoiding, safe in the knowledge that you don’t have to stick with it once your main focus is back on track again!

Either way you keep yourself moving forward, keep your mind focused on the outcome you want and just accept that things happen in their own good time and trying to fight with the process is not just a waste of energy but often counter-productive.

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The answer to this question is remarkably simple – you should only do the things you need to do to get the results you truly want. Anything else, unless it’s pure fun, is just a waste of energy.

If you are constantly berating yourself for the things that you are not doing, if you are always telling yourself you should be, think, act in a certain way, you should buy a certain car, or shoes, or get a promotion or a bigger house, or lose weight, its time to stop and ask yourself why are you still telling yourself you should do it? Why are you not just doing it? If you have had that “should” thought then its clear that on some level you did want that result, the question to ask yourself now is “Is that still true?”. Sometimes our priorities change and we don’t adjust our thinking at the same time. If the answer is “yes” then you have to ask yourself why you are not taking the action needed – maybe you need to go and redraw your plan to make the action steps more achievable, or maybe you need to check in with your vision so you can get excited about it again.

Or maybe its just the the real answer is “no”. Maybe that goal is just not relevant in your life any more, maybe you have evolved beyond it!

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As we wind down towards the weekend now is a good time to look back on your week and see how far you’ve come.

Getting into the habit of doing this at the end of every week ensures that you never get too far off track without realising it. It’s not being off track that’s the problem here, its being off track without knowing you are!

So check in with yourself and look at what you’ve achieved this week and ask yourself four questions – What went well? What could I have done better? What did I learn? What will I do next week?

What went well? OK, I know sometimes you have those weeks where absolutely nothing seems to go right and you get nothing done that you intended and you feel like the whole universe was just taking the micky! We all have these weeks and they’re no fun! If you’ve just had one and you’re struggling to answer this question, change your focus and force yourself to think of all the things that did go well. Maybe you couldn’t get to talk to the person you’d intended but you met someone else who could be an interesting contact. Maybe you were having a really rubbish day and then a friend called you and you realised how precious friends are.  Maybe the only thing that went well was you survived but hey, that’s good! You can always find something that went well, and remember – what you focus on is what grows. Once you start looking you will find loads more to be grateful for!

What could you have done better? Rather than ask what went wrong, ask what you could have done better. This forces you to learn from your experiences rather than beat yourself up about them! And even if you had a truly amazing week there’s always something you could have done better.

What did you learn? Every experience we have can teach us something useful and the more often we reflect and register our learning the more easily we can use it! Brian Tracy says “there is no failure, only feedback”. And lots of people say hindsight is a wonderful thing – well it is… if you use it!

What will I do next week? Check in with your action plan and see where you really are in relation to where you planned to be. Sometimes you will really surprise yourself. I’ve had weeks where I knew I hadn’t acheived a single thing on that week’s list, but when I checked against my action plan for the month I found I’d done a whole load of things that I hadn’t planned for that week! Not ideal I know, but by checking in with my overall plan I felt a whole lot better about my week from hell than I had done previously! Sometimes things just work out that way! Now is also the ideal time to make your action plan for next week and let it mull around in your subconscious while you’re having fun and relaxing over the weekend!

So pat yourself on the back, pour yourself a nice glass of something chilled, put your feet up and relax! You’ve earned it!

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With all the doom and gloom that we are surrounded by every day on TV and radio and in the newspapers it’s a testament to the strength of the human character that we don’t all just stay in bed, pull up the covers and stick our fingers in our ears and hope when we wake up it’s all gone away!

So how do you keep a positive attitude in this negative world we live in? To do this it’s important to understand what a positive attitude is, and more importantly what it isn’t.

Most people think a positive attitude is keeping a smile on your face no matter what is going wrong in your life. You may have crashed your car, run over the kids’ hamster, had your house burgled and eaten so much chocolate that Switzerland is in danger of running out, all in one day, but if someone asks you how you are you smile and say “fine”.

Well, has anyone ever told you what FINE stands for? Its stands for Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional (there is a less polite version but I don’t want to offend anyone!) Now promise never to use that word again, OK?

A positive attitude means taking a good look at your current reality, accepting it for what it is, asking what you can learn from it and then figuring out how to create the life you want.

When things are going wrong its tempting to keep analysing what went wrong, who’s fault it was, how horrible it is, and then back round again! It’s so easy to keep rehashing the mess over and over but that won’t get you moving forward. That’s a bit like driving down Sheikh Zayed Road backwards in the rush hour!

If you are constantly looking back at the past, how can you ever move forwards safely and successfully?

Now, I do believe that it is necessary to look at what went wrong and why. But do it once, then ask yourself what you have learned from the experience and use that learning so you don’t make the same mistakes again.

Then you have to forgive yourself for all your mistakes, let’s face it, if you’d known better, you’d have done better, right? No one plans to scew up! So don’t beat yourself up for what you’ve done in the past! What you have to do is make a plan and start to take action on that plan as soon as possible.

Even if you can only do a tiny amount that is great, just keep going and tomorrow you will do more.

So, now you’ve accepted reality, forgiven yourself for your mistakes, are clear on what you have learned and have a plan for moving forward. So what do you do to avoid getting sucked back down into the negativity?

Well, first of all I think it’s a great idea to write your plan down, and more importantly write down how wonderful your life is going to be once you achieve it. When the going gets tough, and it probably will, it’s easy to forget what you were going to do and why you were doing it. So write everything down and when you get stuck you can go back to your list and there’s the next step sitting waiting for you! When it gets really tough have a look at your
vision for your future and remind yourself that it is worth it!

Be very careful who you speak to about your plan. Only share it with people who you know will be helpful and enthusiastic. Our friends and family usually mean well but sometimes they can hold us back, especially if they think we might be taking on too much, or stretching ourselves too far.

It helps if you can find a Masterminding group who will support you on your journey, or create one yourself with some likeminded people. But remember, only share your plan with people you can trust to support you.

In fact it’s a good idea to avoid negative people altogether.

You know the type, if they’re not complaining about their aches and pains they’re complaining about the weather, or the government, or their spouse or their boss. And if you met them again a year later they’d still be complaining about exactly the same things! These people are energy vampires and you need to get them out of your life for good!

OK, I know that’s not always easy, especially if you’re related to them! But spend as little time as possible with them and most importantly do not engage with their dramas. If you do they will suck you dry before you know it!

The very best way to stay positive is to write a gratitude journal – every day if you can. Now some people say you should do it last thing at night and others say you should do it first thing in the morning. I say you should do it whenever suits you best. I love to wake up and write in mine first thing every morning, it starts my day off with a smile and gives me the energy I need to get going. In your gratitude journal you should write about all the fantastic things in your life, and because what you focus on is what grows, you should also write about the things you want to increase in your life.

Your gratitude journal should start with the words “I am so happy and grateful for …..” I use a simple format to keep me on track – mind, body, family, friends, society, finances. I think of all the things I am grateful for and all the things I want to increase in my life and I keep writing till I run out of things to say. I can even be grateful for Dubai traffic – for example “I am so happy and grateful for all the great drivers who drive safely and courteously”. People laugh at me for that, but you know what? If what you focus on is what grows, then I want to focus on the great drivers, not the idiots!

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If someone was to ask you for directions to your house, your first question to them would probably be “where are you now?” Funnily enough, we rarely ask ourselves that question when we are looking to make our lives better.

If we want to map out a fantastic inspiring future for ourselves, it’s vital that the first thing we do is ask ourselves “where am I now?” The Wheel of Life is the best tool for doing this.

Here’s how it works. Draw a circle and divide the circle into 8 pieces, like a pie chart. Now label each of the pieces of the pie. You can choose your own categories, but for the first time you do this, I find these work best:

Health, finances, family, relationships, spirituality, fun, career, mind.

Now, mark how you feel about each of these areas in your life on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s important to mark how you FEEL, not how successful you are. For example, you might have millions in the bank but be constantly stressed about keeping it, so you would give yourself a lower mark than if you were relatively broke but inspired by what you were doing to change that state. Now mark these numbers on the wheel. The centre of the wheel represents zero while the edge represents 10.

Next, join up the marks on the circle and you have your personal Wheel of Life. Now, I’ve never met you, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t give yourself a perfect 10 in any category, let alone all eight of them. If you did I’d like to meet you! No matter how great our life is, we all have areas we’d love to improve – that’s not discontent, that’s human nature! Likewise, however tough your life is, I would hope you didn’t give yourself a zero in everything either! Let’s face it, a zero in health is dead! So now you’ve joined up all the dots, how does your wheel look? Pretty uneven, yes? And if this is the wheel you’re running your life on, is it any surprise things feel a bit bumpy sometimes?

The great thing about the Wheel of Life is you have a picture of what your life looks like right now, and you can use this picture to prioritise which areas you have to work on. Now, it’s human nature to want to spend our time and energy working on the things we enjoy. The result is that we get better at them and enjoy them more, and the more we do this the less time we have to spend on areas that are not so comfortable for us! We’ve all done it in the gym – there are certain exercises we love to do and there are others that we will avoid if at all possible, usually tucked into the end of a workout when we’re tired, and use that as an excuse for not putting our heart and soul into them! But in reality we should be doing these things first, when we are full of energy and enthusiasm, and leave the fun stuff to the end. Success expert Brain Tracy says “If you have to eat a frog today, do it first thing and get it over with – the rest of your day can only get better!”

The Wheel of Life shows you very clearly which areas do need working on first. Which areas are out of balance? The next stage is the fun part. Take a look at your lowest scoring area and try to imagine what it would look like if it was a perfect 10. What would you be doing, thinking, feeling? Don’t be afraid to think big here, all the most exciting goals are the big ones, the ones that look just a little bit scary! Think about it carefully and write it all down in as much detail as possible. This is what you are aiming for. Now, looking at that area of your life today, make a list of all the things that will have to change in order for you to get there. At this stage don’t think about how you are going to be able to do it, or you’ll probably get overwhelmed and give up before you’ve even started! Instead just think about what, in theory, would you have to do. For example, if you were to say “If I was a perfect 10 in health I would be able to compete in a triathlon” one of the “whats” would be to get fit enough to do it, another would be to find out how long it would take to get that fit. If you thought at this stage of HOW you were going to go from couch potato to triathlete you would never even try! Only once you have exhausted all the “whats” do you start looking at how you might achieve them. Go through all eight areas of your life and do the same thing for each one.

Now, there’s no way you can work on all eight areas at once no matter how good your time management is! So be disciplined and work on your lowest scoring areas first, and when you get tired or stressed spend some time in the higher scoring areas to restore your energy and confidence.

I recommend you redo your Wheel of Life every couple of months. Have you ever watched a tightrope walker on the high wire? They may look totally balanced but if you watch them closely they are making constant tiny movements to adjust their stability. And life is like that, when you are moving towards your goals you have to be constantly checking you are on course and staying in balance.  This way, you never get too far off course before you realise it, and the corrections you need to make are small and relatively easy.

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You Need a Plan

Last time we talked about the way to set goals so that you will always be moving in the direction of your dreams. Now we are going to do some really practical work – we are going to create a strategy that will enable you to achieve everything you ever dreamed of in less time than you would think possible.

Having a sound strategy for your life means that you are focused and you don’t waste time messing around with things that don’t serve you. It doesn’t mean that you don’t get to have fun! Anyone who’s ever read anything from me before will know that I believe fun is a hugely important part of achieving your dreams. If it’s not fun, why bother? But in order to have fun, sometimes we have to do things that at the time seem like plain hard work. It’s just like keeping fit and healthy – you’ve got to do the work to get the rewards.

Zig Ziglar once said “If you do the things other people wouldn’t dream of doing, you can have the life other people only dream of having”. It is so true. It’s not always easy to get to where we want to be in life, but it’s always worth it!

So have a look at the list of goals you made last time, there should be about 101 of them, and obviously unless you’re Superwoman/man there’s no way you can work on all of them at the same time!

So just read through them and make a note of any that jump out at you as really exciting, that you just can’t wait to get started on. Those are your priority goals. There may just be one or two of them, that’s fine. But if there’s ten or so, that’s fine too.

Now read through the list again and think which of them are really important to you. Again, don’t analyse too much, just pull out all the ones that resonate with you now. You will probably find you have quite a lot of these – maybe about 30 or so out of the 101.

Now put your two lists, the priority goals and the important goals, together and read though them and mark off the ones that are REALLY important, that you feel you must get started on NOW. Work on this list until you have it down to about 10 of them. If you have only 5, that’s OK. If you have 11 or 12 that’s fine too but no more than that. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Anyway, as you achieve your goals you’re going to move things off the main 101 list to your priority list so it always stays at 10. And as you get new ideas you can add them to your 101 list so it always stays at at least 101!

Try to make this a list of big and little goals and short and medium term ones – that way you can vary your pace depending on your energy levels. On days that your energy is low you can work on the easy ones and when your energy is right up there you can forge ahead with the big scary ones. This way you are always moving forward towards your goals and you never need to get stuck.

OK, so now you have ten exciting goals that you just can’t wait to get started on. Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back; if you’ve come this far you are already in the top 5% of high achievers!

Now you need a plan!

Make a list of your priorities for the month ahead. What do you want to have achieved by the end of this month to take you towards achieving those ten goals?

Now some of these things will be repeating activities like, going to the gym or yoga, eating healthily, sleeping enough, keeping the car clean, and telling your partner and your family that you love them. That’s great – these activities are fantastic energizers because they’re easy to achieve and your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between them and the big goals. These energizer goals are great to slot in whenever you’re feeling a bit stuck or overwhelmed.

But keeping your 10 priority goals in mind, break them down into small manageable parts and make a list of the things you want to have achieved by the end of this month.

Now break this into weekly plans and then into daily tasks or to-do lists. Now, I know this seems like a lot of work! But really, once you get used to doing it, it takes minutes every day.

On your daily to-do list put no more than 6 things. What you don’t want is to get into the habit of letting things slide into the next day. You want to finish every day satisfied that you have achieved everything you set out to. And when you’ve finished the 6 things, your work is done! Go and celebrate! You deserve it! If you really feel like adding a couple more things to your list, then do it. But remember, you have a plan for the whole month and there’s no rush.

Now some days will go pear-shaped and you won’t get anything done! This is real life! Don’t panic about it, just do what you can do and adjust your plan for the next day. But do NOT put twice as many things on your to-do list the next day! That way lies stress and overwhelm.

Some days you will have a huge rush on and maybe have 20 things that absolutely MUST be done, that’s OK too. But remember, these days should be the exception rather than the rule, and you must plan in a rest and reward day afterwards. You cannot work at that rate continuously and expect to succeed.

In the long term it really doesn’t matter if you take huge big strides or tiny, tiny little ones as long as your direction is always positive. I believe that making small incremental changes in our life is, in the long run, much more beneficial because small changes usually stick. They don’t stress our system out and exhaust us, so we can keep going for longer. It’s a bit like going on a crash diet – fine if you have some big event on that you want to look great for, but the results rarely stick. Slow and steady really does win the day!

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